The Upside to That Condo’s Downsides

The bright side to not getting your real estate must-haves in the place you buy.

For condo buyers in downtown Chicago neighborhoods, a short list of must-haves and nice-to-haves emerges fairly early on in the home search. But what if the place you love falls just short of your hopes. Things may not be so bad.

Kitchen Not Updated

Who doesn’t love a new kitchen?

It’s tough. You’ve envisioned yourself popping open a bottle of champagne over marble new counter tops sitting atop soft-close cabinets in the perfect espresso finish. So it’s easy to be disappointed with the late-90s kitchen actually installed your otherwise-perfect place.

On the bright side, you’re not being forced into paying for someone else’s off-the-mark design tastes. If you prefer marble and espresso, you won’t have to settle for granite and white. Even better? You’ll get to live in the space for a while, taking inventory of your true needs and wants for the space. Your (eventual) kitchen will be better for it.

If you later discover you can’t live without a rotisserie, you’ll be able to go for it!

No In-Unit Laundry

Ah yes, the dreaded reliance on a common laundry room. Many condo-dwellers view having their own washer and dryer at home as an essential graduation from renting life.

I understand this feeling, but it overlooks one very practical aspect of shared laundry facilities: the ability to use multiple machines. In-unit machines can deliver the same get-it-done speed as loading three washers for a single cycle. You can seriously be done in an hour and a half.

If that doesn’t work for you, not having in-unit laundry gives you an excuse to send your laundry out (bonus: it’ll return clean AND folded!).

No Hardwood Floors

This one is also pretty major for many condo-buyers, since carpet is a dated look (and high maintenance) for living rooms and dining rooms these days. But flooring is so easy to change. This is another area where having the flexibility to choose what finish you really want can make a place truly yours (and set it apart from others to benefit resale value…just don’t get too crazy). Check with a licensed flooring contractor for an estimate you can rely on. But for back-of-the-envelope calculations, factor in $7 to $12 per square foot for materials and installation.

See, it none of these have to be the end of the world. :-)

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